Apple Grants ABC ‘Nightline’ Exclusive Access To Foxconn Factories In China [Teaser Video]

Following intense scrutiny from the media over working conditions in its supply chain overseas, Apple has granted ABC Nightline anchor Bill Weir exclusive access to its Foxconn factories. In a special edition of Nightline that will air tomorrow night, Weir will tour the largest ‘iFactory’ in Shenzhen, China.

For years, Apple and Foxconn have been synonymous with monster profits and total secrecy so it was fascinating to wander the iphone and iPod production lines, meet the people who build them and see how they live. Our cameras were rolling when thousands of hopeful applicants rushed the Foxconn gates and I spoke with dozens of line workers and a top executive about everything from hours and pay to the controversies over suicides at the plant and the infamous “jumper nets” that line the factories in Shenzhen. After this trip, I’ll never see an Apple product the same way again,” said Weir.

ABC is owned by Disney. The CEO of Disney, Bob Iger, is currently a member of Apple’s Board of Directors. The Steve Jobs Trust is also Disney’s largest individual shareholder.

Here’s part of the report:

“Okay.” “Okay.” “Okay.”

The voices are robot feminine and they never shut up, each chirp a surreal announcement that another new iPad is about to be born.

“Okay.” “Okay.” “Okay.”

The factory floor is spotless under the bright fluorescent lights and with hypnotic rhythm, thousands of hands reach into a conveyor belt river, bringing each gliding gadget to life one tiny piece at a time.

“Okay.” “Okay.”

A supervisor will bark the occasional order in Mandarin, but on this line the machines do most of the talking while the people work in silence.

Their faces are blank as they insert a chip or wipe a screen or plug in a diagnostic cable to hear that everything is “Okay.”

And they will repeat that motion and hear that fembot voice a few thousand more times before lunch.

It is just an average day at Foxconn.

This special edition of Nightline will air Tuesday, February 21 at 11:35 PM ET/PT on ABC.

Apple has started the largest factory audit in history with The Fair Labor Association. The report will be published within the next several weeks. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently affirmed that the company “takes working conditions very seriously” and that “we are very connected to worker conditions on a granular level.”

  • Killer_Kadoogan

    How much filming did they do of production lines that make the XBox, HP devices, Dell computers etc? Did they talk to the 150 Foxconn employees that worked on the XBox production line that threatened suicide because of pay and conditions?

    I hope that this will be a more even-handed report than we have seen before, but I smell another lazy hatchet job.

    Before the usual suspects arrive to accuse me of not caring about chinese workers, yes I do believe Apple could and should do more to encourage Foxconn to do better. I also believe the many other large customers of Foxconn should be held accountable too, but few seem to want to do that. Attention should also be paid to other non-Foxconn factories that have worse pay and conditions. Until then I will continue to hold the view that continued criticism directed at Apple is more about it being ‘cool’ to be one of the anti-Apple sheep than any actual concern for chinese workers.

  • BMWTwisty

    yea, that’ll be another hit piece from Frontline.  I’ll read the reviews rather than waste my time. Apple, that demon company…

  • rafaelmacho

    We have labels for food that tell us the ingredients, vitamins, carbs, etc. Why don’t we start labels with work ethics? A label that would detail how much development was designed in California… Though the box shows “made in China”, it would be great to read about the work conditions, the carbon foot print, the components, how much can be recycled, etc. There are solutions, but they won’t come from companies. Legislation is the key to transparency.

  • redheart

    Sure looks like torture to me.

  • baby_Twitty

    Bet you’ve never worked in or seen a typical production line before

  • Chris Pope

    No one likes you when you’re on the top…

  • eclipsiumrasa

    Don’t be ridiculous. That much text would ruin Apple’s aesthetic.

    Its better to just brush the suicides under the carpet, or better yet pretend that there is disportionate focus on Apple that is making it seem there is an intolerable level of suicides happening at Foxconn, whene everyone really knows that the number of suicides per Apple product produced is at an *entirely acceptable* ratio.

  • eclipsiumrasa

     “Sure looks like torture to me.”

    “Bet you’ve never worked in or seen a typical water boarding interrogation before.”

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a senior writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

(sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)| Read more posts by .

Posted in News | Tagged: , , , , |